This is the day that the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
I. WE MAY APPLY IT TO OUR LORD'S RESURRECTION-DAY. That has been called the day of days, as indeed it was and is to the Church of Christ. That first Easter Day was "the day in his life which he made his own beyond all others. Not his birthday; for that meant his entrance on a life of sorrows. Not his ascension day; for that was the closing scene of a triumph already achieved. Not his transfiguration-day; for that was a momentary flash of glory in a career of pain. Not the day of his crucifixion; that was a great day for a ruined world, but for him it marked the lowest stage of humiliation and woe. The day of days in the life of Christ was the day of his resurrection." And to the first disciples especially, and to the believing Church still:
1. This day has the joy of deliverance from a great dread. They thought they had but their Lord, and that the redemption of Israel was now but an unfulfilled and impossible dream. But that dread departed, driven forth by the joy of the day of resurrection.
2. And the day brings also the joy of full conviction as to the gospel we believe. Our Lord and his apostles base all belief of that gospel on the Resurrection; they held it, as do we, as an infallible proof.
3. The joy of renewed and radiant hope. "Christ ever liveth:" what now is not possible? For all such reasons the words of the text may be fitly applied to the Easter joy.
II. TO THE LORD'S DAY - THE SABBATH. Who can over-estimate to man's body, mind, heart, and soul what the blessed Sunday brings? Fools and blind are they who, for any reason or by any means, would rob weary-hearted men of this priceless boon.
III. TO THE DAY OF OUR CONVERSION. It is not all that can, nor is it indispensable for any to remember the exact day when that great spiritual change passed upon them. But some have vivid recollection of it; they can tell the time, place, circum stances, and all connected with the day on which they were born again and passed from death unto life. And it may be they are to be envied who can do this, which assuredly many cannot. But they will not hesitate to take such words as these in our text, and apply them to this by them never-to-be-forgotten day.
IV. TO THE DAY OF REVIVAL AND RELIGIOUS PROSPERITY, How blessed such seasons are! God gives them to his Church from time to time. Spring-tide seasons, when there is an energy and quickening and force in the general life of the Church, such as has long been unknown. It was so for Israel when this psalm was first sung, and it has been so many times since. And let no one wait for the whole Church to be thus revived; the blessed time may come - will come, if really longed for - to the individual soul. And that will be a time of joy. - S.C.
I. THE IMPORT OF THE WORDS — "This is the day," etc. The everlasting mercies of God which are celebrated in the four first verses by way of repetition; Christ's being set in a large place (ver. 5), which the prophet elsewhere explains by God's delivering him (Psalm 18:19); his exultation, because he shall see his desire upon them that hate him (ver. 7); his declaring that it is better to trust in the Lord than to put any confidence in man (ver. 8); the power given him to destroy all nations in the name of the Lord (ver. 10). All these expressions, I say, import some effects of his royal dignity, more permanent and extensive, and more evident tokens of the Divine interposition, than can be attributed to the former event; though that was not ejected without the direction of a particular providence. But all these effects, as all other effects of Christ's mediatorial Office, being fully accounted for from the truth of His resurrection, and such facts as were consequential to it; it is most reasonable to consider the text as respecting His resurrection.
I. THIS IS THE DAY WHICH THE LORD HATH MADE GREAT, by giving the most glorious proof of His own greatness; by rising on it from the dead, by being born again of the womb of the earth, to prove Himself God, as His first birth had proved Him to be man.
This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it
I. THE JOY OF A GREAT REACTION; a reaction from anxiety and sorrow. So it was at the time of Christ's resurrection. The apostles had been crushed by the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ. When He was in His grave, all seemed over; and when He appeared, first to one, and then to another, on the day of His resurrection, they could not keep their feelings of welcome and delight, — traversed though these were by a sense of wondering awe, — within anything like bounds. "Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord." And this joy of theirs is repeated every year in the greatest feast of the Christian Church. Those who have felt the sorrow feel the joy. Year by year we stand by, in spirit, while Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus lay Him in His grave; and the tension of sincere feeling, of sympathetic sorrow, of penitence and contrition which this implies, is followed by a corresponding reaction on Easter morning.
II. THE JOY OF A GREAT CERTAINTY. The resurrection of our Saviour is the fact which makes an intelligent Christian certain of the truth of his creed. And in this way it satisfies a real mental want, and it occasions keen enjoyment by giving this satisfaction. All else in our creed depends on the resurrection of Christ; and to-day when we remind ourselves of its historical certainty, which is scarcely less illustrated by the apparent contradictions than by the collective and direct force of the accounts which have come down to us, we experience a mental delight at the freshening touch of truth, and cry, "This is the day which the Lord hath made: we will rejoice and be glad in it."
III. THE JOY OF EASTER IS INSPIRED BY THE HOPE WHICH EASTER WARRANTS AND QUICKENS. Hope and Joy are twin sisters. Joy best enters the human soul when leaning on the arm of Hope. As the apostle says, "We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." What is this hope which Easter most distinctly puts before us? and how does it spring from our Saviour's resurrection? The great hope which Easter sets before us is the completeness of our life after death. The difficulty of believing in a future life is due, not to the reason, but to the imagination as controlled by the senses. Who of us has not made this discovery in some one of those dark hours, which sooner or later visit every human life? Who of us has not stood by the open coffin, and felt himself, or marked how others feel, the terrific empire of sense in the presence of death? At such a moment the most modest anticipations of reason are deemed an unsubstantial guess: the clear teaching of revelation a solemn fancy; the mind's sceptre has passed to the imagination and the senses, and they decide that all ends with death, and that the grim secrets of the grave are the measure of man's impotent aspirations after a future existence. Now it was to deal with this specific difficulty that our Lord willed to die, and then, by a literal bodily resurrection, to rise from the grave. Truly we may exclaim with the apostle, that God "hath begotten us again unto a lively hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," and with the psalmist, that "this is the day which the Lord hath made: let us rejoice and be glad in it."
II. THIS IS THE DAY WHICH THE LORD HATH MADE GLORIOUS, by displaying the glory of His everlasting kingdom, by taking possession of eternal life in His own person, and thereby assuring the same precious blessing to them who by faith lay hold on His promises.
III. THIS IS THE DAY WHICH THE LORD HATH MADE A DAY OF TRIUMPH AND REJOICING, by subduing all the most. formidable enemies of human nature, robbing death of its sting, the grave of its victory, spoiling principalities and powers, triumphing over them, and making a show of them openly: by flinging open the gates of death and hell, proclaiming liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.
IV. THIS IS THE DAY WHICH THE LORD HATH MADE WONDERFUL, by turning dishonour into honour, by converting the ignominy of His death into the glory of a resurrection, the cross on which He suffered into the trophy of His victory, the crown of thorns into a ray of glory.
V. THIS IS THE DAY WHICH THE LORD HATH MADE COMFORTABLE TO ALL THAT MOURN IN ZION, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heartiness.
(A. Grant, D.D.)
II. UPON WHAT REASONS SO EMINENT AND PECULIAR A DISTINCTION OF THIS DAY IS MADE.
1. The resurrection of Christ did evidence the Divine authority of our Saviour, as it could not, upon the principles of the Jews themselves, have been ejected, but only by a Divine power.
2. But the proof, indeed of the Divine mission of Christ from His resurrection does not only affect the Jews, but all other persons indifferently; for granting a power to man of doing very strange and surprising things by means of the union of his soul and body, according to the laws of which they here act upon one another, or upon other bodies; yet, when this union is dissolved, when the soul is incapable of acting either upon its own former body, or any body whatever, how is it possible to conceive that it should be able to restore the bodily organs, which it before informed, either to their proper offices or order again? This can only be the act of God, who made us and fashioned us; by whom, as the psalmist celebrates His wisdom and power, we are so fearfully and wonderfully made; in whose hand is the soul of every living thing; of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things.
III. WHAT ARE THOSE PROPER ACTS OF JOY AND GLADNESS WHEREWITH IT OUGHT TO BE CELEBRATED.
1. The first and highest expression of our joy on occasion of so extraordinary an act of the Divine power and goodness, ought to consist in those inward and spiritual sentiments which the soul of a good man naturally feels when he reflects on any special mercy of God, or any spiritual good which it is the means of conveying to him; especially in so ample a manner that it is fruitful and diffusive of many other spiritual goods. Such is the Divine mercy which we now commemorate; and therefore, if we commemorate it as we ought, we shall inwardly rejoice in the Lord, according to the joy in harvest, or as men rejoice when they divide the spoil on occasion of so great a flow of Divine blessings upon us all at once.
2. This internal joy ought also to be expressed by some outward and proper significations of it. Acts of religious praise and thanksgiving to God; and. acts of innocent festivity in other external respects.
II. THIS DAY HE CLAIMS AS AN OFFERING — let us present it with joyful obedience.
III. ON THIS DAY HE ADVANCES WITH PECULIAR PRIVILEGES — let us get forth to meet Him with all the ardour of hope.
IV. ON THIS DAY WE DISCERN OUR INTEREST IN THE TRIUMPH OF THE REDEEMER.
(A. A. Livermore.)
1. Days of rest from bodily labour; for the meaner labour must give way when a better and a worthier is to be undertaken. And while the mind hath just occasion to make its abode in the house of gladness, the weed of ordinary toil and travel doth not become us; therefore it is fit that ordinary labour should sometimes surrender itself up to the service of God.
2. To laud the name of the Lord, and to give thanks unto Him are the only language of our thankfulness (Psalm 42:5).
3. God doth not deny it, but he that offereth Him praise doth honour Him; but will you know how that honour is best exalted? Make a cheerful noise to the God of Jacob, singing and making melody to the Lord with psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs. If the Jews might justly say, how can we sing the Lord's song, while we are in a strange land, while we are in captivity? then we must acknowledge, on the contrary, how can we choose but sing the Lord's song, being delivered out of captivity? Singing of psalms is a most proper exercise of our reasonable service.
4. Another effect of Christian joy is to give, because it abounds. A joy that will not distribute to the needy is a shrunken withered joy, nay, a joy that will carry the curse of God with it, because it wants fruits; and a joy that will carry the curse of the poor with it, because they are suffered to pine and languish in our public gladness.
5. All sorts of mirth and innocent recreation, wherein our substance is not exhausted, nor our time trifled away, are agreeable to our Christian conversation. At our times of respite from sacred offices, to delight our sullen nature with harmless pleasures, it rubs off the rust of melancholy, and puts alacrity in us to rejoice always in the Lord.
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